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Ramadan Recipes: Sambusak (Samosa)

Sambusak, probably the most popular dish in Saudi Arabia.

Source : Selma Roth | Arab News
Jeddah | 03 Aug 2011

The month of Ramadan is a month of fasting and spiritual reflection. It is also a month in which family comes together. The breaking of the fast, or Iftar, usually occurs with family and starts with eating dates and drinking water or Qahwa (Arabic coffee). After that, some families go to the mosque to pray Maghrib, after which the main meal is served, while others have the meal directly after sunset. The breaking of the fast comes with several traditional Iftar-delights. Sambusak is probably the most popular dish in Saudi Arabia.

There are different recipes to make sambusak, as every cook adds his or her own touch to it. Besides, sambusak — also written as sambousa or samosa — is not only eaten in the Arabian Peninsula, but also in South and Central Asia, the Mediterranean, North and South Africa, and the Horn of Africa.

The numerous ways to make sambusak add to its popularity. With ground beef or chicken, spiced potatoes, onions, carrots, lentils, or cheese, or even prepared as a sweet form — the varieties are limitless.

Servings: Approximately 30 pieces


500g all-purpose flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil (optional)
200 ml lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
extra flour for dusting
500 g ground beef
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 bunch fresh dill
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground parsley
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cardamom

If you fry them:
1 liter oil

If you bake them:
1 tbsp oil or baking parchment
1 egg and some water


1. In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt and oil until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour in water, using more or less if necessary to make a smooth dough. Pat into a ball. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover and set aside on a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

2. In the meantime, wash the vegetables, chop the onions very small and crush the garlic. Chop half of the fresh parsley, cilantro and dill also finely.

3. Fry the ground beef (without oil) in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in onion and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, or until onions are golden brown. Add the chopped half of the parsley, cilantro and dill, as well as the ground cumin, parsley, coriander and salt. Cook on medium flame for about 10 minutes, while stirring from time to time.

4. Chop the other half of the parsley, cilantro and dill roughly. Add it to the meat-mix, stir well and remove from heat.

5. After the dough has rested for 30 to 60 minutes and doubled in size, knead the dough again for a few minutes and divide into small balls. On a work surface with a thin layer of flour, roll each ball out and into a circle (you can use a cup to cut round pieces). Place 1-2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of each piece and seal the edges with a little bit of water and flour.

6. Traditionally, sambusak is fried. In that case, deep-fry the sambusak in small portions in hot oil until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve warm. However, many people prefer to bake them in the oven, as it is easier and healthier. In that case, put the sambusak on a lightly greased baking tray or use parchment paper. Beat one egg in a bowl, add some water to it, and lightly brush over each piece. Bake at 220 degrees Celsius for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown.

Ramadan Mubarak!


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